Tuesday, November 10, 2009

West Side Story - Sunday Matinee 1

Sunday was an interesting day.  Matinee's are always 'fun'.  You wrap up the Sat eve show around 11p. Then you head to the cast party, even tho you know you have to be at the theater at 12:30 the next day.  Most Sundays the cast and crew are pretty wiped from the night before, but things typically don't go too badly.  One thing I did notice the moment I got there - the SM was barking quite a bit.  Maybe she didn't get enough sleep, maybe she had too much alcohol the night before...  I don't know what it was, but she was not happy.

There were a couple light cues I adjusted.  One that would definitely look different, but shouldn't throw the cast.  Noam was hesitant...  He knew my idea made sense and would have done it immediately if we had a different SM.  However our SM will notice the change, and will not like that we just went ahead and did it.  I tried to reassure him about it and said if she started to give him a hard time to blame me.  I made the change - you didn't know - whatever.  Blame me.  So we made the change.  (Which looked FABOO by the way...)

At the same time, the folks video recording the show are getting set up. There are two cameras, and a microphone, as well as a recording of the body mic feed being burned to CD.  I provide tape to put over the lights on the front of the cameras.  Most cast members hate knowing they're being recorded, and those that really hate it can see those tiny lights from a mile away.

We're all ready to start the show, but we haven't gotten word from the house to start.  2:10...  2:13...  We're supposed to start at 2p. I went downstairs to find out what was happening.  Four van loads of handicapped patrons arrived at 2:05.  It took them 15 mins to get everyone unloaded and to their seats.  In the meantime, another patron who got there on time was giving the box office and the Prod hell for not starting at 2p.  She didn't care what the reason was, and she didn't like anyone's tone.  Ugh - glad I don't do much box office work.

As we go thru the first few scenes, it's pretty clear our SM is struggling.  It doesn't help that when she calls Spot A out, Spot B went too.  We caught it, tho it still looked weird because the timing was thrown off.  We get to the song 'Maria' and for what is probably the fourth time she tries to take the lights out before the end of the song.  There are only two spotslights on Tony while he's singing.  She calls the spot out cue - the city tech takes his spot out, I ignore her.  For a moment you hear her take a deep breath and get ready to say something when Tony sings his last line.  Instead of getting upset, she's relieved that her ass was covered yet again.  Then she says something like, 'Well that wasn't that bad.  Maybe we'll keep it for next week.' Whatever... 

As the first act continues, things are looking better.  Then we get to the end of Act I.  Typically the order of operations is:  Spot A on - GO.  Sound - GO. Light cue whatever - GO. Spot B out - GO.  Pull the grand - GO.  As the grand closes, the set piece magically disappears by two people who walk with the curtain, and grab the set piece so the curtain doesn't hit it.

Well, it didn't exactly go as it should.  The city tech didn't hear whether she called the spot out.  Then she says 'why isn't the set moving?'  She never called the grand to close, and since it's Mr. SM who's working the curtain he waited for her cue like a good little boy.  So the end was a bit....  Let's just say 'clusterfuck' and leave it at that.

It didn't help that all thru the first act one of the mentally challenged patrons was gagging, and during a fight scene another covered his ears and went running up the isle screaming.  Hmmm... There's a good sign.

The Prod says: It's been 17hrs since we did this last.  The dialogue hasn't changed.  The music hasn't changed, and funny, the cues haven't changed either.  I tell her I don't trust the SM - how are we going to cover for her when the only other talent (aka smart enough to ignore her when necessary) isn't going to be there next week.  I can't run the spot and the board at the same time.  Ugh!  Next weekend I will not be afraid to interrupt her if something goes wrong.

I decide it's best that I go home after intermission.  I pass the Choreo on my way out.  I'm really trying hard not to let this bother me, but dag...  I tell him - I'm trying...  I fill him in on what the Prod & I discussed.  I tell him I don't trust her, but that I'm praying things aren't this jacked up next week.

I don't know what else to do.  I guess nothing...  It kills me to see the wheels fall off the way they did on Sunday.  There were some awesome moments, but some were just dreadful.  If the SM trusted her staff enough to do their jobs correctly, then we could have gotten thru her brain fart without too much trouble.  But no one breathes unless she says it's ok to.  So we sit there in the dark, the spot is still being used a 'search light', and she says 'why isn't the set moving?'  It's so frustrating cuz it doesn't have to be like this.

I have no idea how the second act went over all, and I don't think I want to know.  Tho I did get an email from Noam after the show:

"After the show, I saved everything and the board decided to spazz and it took out all of the lights (including the house lights) so no one could see anything.  I re-loaded the show and everything looked fine, but please check to make sure all the cues are set on Friday.  Thanks."

D'oh!  Dontcha hate it when you have a house full of blue hairs trying to get out of the theater to pee when the lights in the whole place go out?  LMAO!  If we still did the Oh Shit award, this would be on the top of the nomination list.  LOL!  Noam, we love you.  We'll miss you next week.

There is no tech brush up again this Thursday.  The SM won't even be there.  I'm going to go anyway so I can make sure everything is fine before Friday and have time to fix it if necessary.  I did receive an email from the SM asking if I would be by Thursday and if I could check out the cues after the mishap that happened with the board.  I told her I would be there, and that I had the most recent version of the show on my thumb drive, so I'll make sure all is well.  I took the opportunity to point out that Thursdays are very useful if there are problems so we don't have to run around like crazy just before the show starts on Friday.

I have to say again - I know I'm whining.  I don't want to be irritated by all this stuff.  I love theater.  But every day there's another reason to be annoyed.  If we'd had a brush up, Friday's show would have been fine.  If the SM wasn't still drunk (or whatever) the Sunday show would have been fine too.  There are mistakes we laugh at, and mistakes that are just not acceptable.  The light board spazzing - funny.  The clusterfuck of incompetence - unacceptable.

Maybe I am getting too judgmental the longer I do this.  Maybe I'm spoiled by those SM's & LD's I've worked with in the past.  Who knows.  I have three shows in the spring.  If I have the same attitude problems, then I'll know that it's me and theater may not be in my future.  We'll see...


  1. Great blog, Amy. I enjoy reading all the theater stuff, although I'm certainly sorry it has been so tough on you. I only remember seeing you cry once when you were very upset. Hopefully, things will go well on the last weekend.

  2. Thanks Tom! Maybe you should think about coming out this weekend to see it... :-)

  3. If I lived just a little closer..... :-)